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Vehicle repair shop ‘a serious health issue’

Vehicle repair shop ‘a serious health issue’

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At least one resident, in the area known as Sardine Drive in Arnos Vale, is expressing her displeasure with the operation of a vehicle repair shop, located in close proximity to her property.{{more}}

Merlene Allen told SEARCHLIGHT that the situation has become so bad that she is forced to keep her windows closed during the day, because of the fumes which have been emanating from the garage next door.

According to Allen, she has been living in the area since 2002 and the garage, which is owned by Lance Oliver, proprietor of the business ‘Rent and Drive’, was built and began operation about six years later in 2008.

“And since then, they have stacked all these derelict vehicles and pieces of metal,” she said, adding that the odour from the containers and the fumes from the vehicle paint is bad.

“You can smell it in the house,” Allen explained.

“The first thing in the morning I open my window, it’s a bad odour,” she said.

She even complained that water runs off the roof of the building housing the garage and settles in her backyard.

A few years ago, in 2009, residents in the area had also expressed concern about the type of business was being operated at the site. At that time, they were particularly concerned about the storage of vehicle batteries.

The concern then was that the stored batteries could contain harmful chemicals, which could result in lead poisoning.

This time around, Allen contended that the old vehicles are a breeding ground for rodents.

She told SEARCHLIGHT that she has seen them coming out at night.

“This is a serious health issue for me … I would really, really, really love to have some redress,” Allen said.

She said that she gets angry when she looks at the site and that other residents in the area have also complained about the problem.

At first, the property was used to park vehicles, but has now been transformed into a fully functional auto repair shop, she said.

Allen maintains that she does not have anything personal against Oliver.

But, according to Allen, the situation has gotten so bad that she and other residents have taken their plight to the Physical Planning Unit.

She said that the site has been visited by environmental health officers, who conducted an appraisal back in November 2011.

The results, according to the woman, showed that the immediate environment was unsafe.

She further claims that the owner of the business was given notice to stop operation and clean up the environment, but he is yet to do so.

However, when contacted, Oliver told SEARCHLIGHT that the spraying of vehicles is usually done during hours when people in the area are generally not home.

Oliver further explained that his business place is designed so that the spraying of vehicles is done in an enclosed environment and not done in close proximity to any of the other residents in the area.

“I just think that she (Allen) is being unreasonable,” Oliver said.

Regarding the visit from the environmental health officers, Oliver confirmed that a team did visit the premises of his business, but said that the officers had indicated that they did not know what the residents had been complaining about.

He said that after he acquired the property, he cleaned and fenced the area.

According to Oliver, when he acquired the property it was “a rat nest”.

As to the water settling on her property, Oliver said that a section of Allen’s house roof hangs over his property, but he is not making that an issue.

“I don’t know why she is trying to put so many people out of a bread,” Oliver told SEARCHLIGHT.

He maintained that the place was not profitable to him and that he did it to keep the eight or so people employed.

Oliver further contended that he has plans in place to make the garage fully environmentally compliant, but that it would take some time to do that.

He apologized, however, for causing any of his neighbours any discomfort, but maintains that Allen only wants to see the place shut down.

Several attempts to get an official comment from the Physical Planning and Development Unit proved futile.

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